The passing of Queen Elizabeth II has led to a discussion about the role of the monarchy. The empire included 15 countries for which the queen was the head of state, including my family's Jamaica, as well as 40 other Commonwealth members.

One commentator said that she oversaw a decolonization process that played out around the world and did so with a great sense of responsibility and duty. While still a princess in 1947, the queen sent a message to the people of the British Commonwealth Empire stating that she would devote her entire life to service. The problem is that the outcomes for those in the "imperial family" have always been based on the logic of white supremacy, that black and brown life is disposable to ensure prosperity for those deemed white.

The queen is the perfect representation of the new age of empire, which is based on the same racist logic of the classic colonial period. In 1953, when she ascended to the throne, Britain was dismantling its empire and giving in to demands from the colonies. Because independence, too, was often symbolic, she bestowed freedom on colonial subjects. The economic exploitation of the former colonies was still intact despite the illusion of political power.

Poor people are often blamed for their poverty by the Western world. The main cause of continued inequality is corruption, according to many observers. Between 1970 and 2015, thirty African countries lost an estimated $1.8 trillion in capital flight, which is more than the amount of aid received. If you look at where the money comes from and where it ends up, it's clear there isn't a lot of corruption in Africa.

African countries were left behind after independence, with few schools, hospitals or infrastructure, and expected to compete in the world. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank helped these countries get back on their feet. The institutions attached conditions that made it easier for borrowers to sell their goods.

White supremacy is reflected in the world we live in. Between 1970 and 2015 resource transfers from the Global South to the Global North totaled $242 trillion.

The queen had a special place in her heart for Africa so we should explore the brutal legacy of empire. The British empire spanned from Nigeria in the west to South Africa. These countries are lagging behind their former mother country on a number of metrics. The effects on health and life expectancy can be seen in poverty data as well. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States have the same average life expectancy as Britain. Life expectancies range from 68.6 in Botswana, with a population of less than 2.5 million, to 54.7% in Nigeria, with 217 million people. This unfortunate pattern is replicated across Africa and goes a long way towards explaining why COVID did not have the devastating effect in Africa that it had in the West. Fewer people are old enough to be considered high risk.

There are more deaths in the 30–34 age group in South Africa than in the 80–84 age group. There are more deaths in the older age group in Britain than in the US. A child is more likely to die before their fifth birthday than a soldier is in Vietnam. Africa is celebrated as a young country, but it is just a reflection of low life expectancy. Life in Britain's former African empire is not as important as it is in the Mother Country. Most of the U.N. Millennium Development goals were achieved by China, even though progress in Africa was not as good. Nine out of 10 people living in extreme poverty will reside on the African continent by the year 2030.

The creation of the world in the image of white supremacy has been done by the British Empire. Children in former colonies die by the second if they don't have access to food and water. A world that produces an excess of food leads to nine million people dying from hunger each year. 1.5 million people die from diseases like Tuberculosis every year. It's ridiculous to think that the end of Western domination was caused by decolonization. The scale of death caused by a racist economic order is a crime against humanity.

The queen's reign began when the British empire was still intact and ended with most of the colonies having a measure of independence. Queen Elizabeth was the epitome of benevolent colonial exploitation, a system that pretends to be offering a helping hand to the very people it continues to oppress. With her reign over, it is a good time to question the role of the monarchy in furthering white supremacy and how to upend the economic order that gave the British crown its power.

The views expressed by the author or authors are not necessarily those ofScientific American.

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